Toowoomba job seekers unite on OzHarvest food rescue project
Women from different cultural backgrounds united on a food rescue operation in Toowoomba, helping to tackle food wastage and assist people in need, all while learning valuable skills as part of Work Skills Traineeships.
The job seekers – from Eritrean, Sudanese, Botswanan, Congolese and Australian backgrounds – work together to engage businesses and suppliers to donate excess food to local charities that assist people in need.
By the project's end, a total of 24 women had competed 22 weeks of paid work while studying for a Certificate I in Business, organised by the YWCA Queensland.
Bongerize (Jemmy) Basara, who is 19 years old, had been caring for a family member before she joined the project.
"I am so happy to be part of REAP because there is a big need for this in Toowoomba," Jemmy said.
"Now that we have launched our REAP project I am looking forward to collecting the food and seeing it go to people who really need it."
The Queensland Government funds these Work Skills Traineeships through Skilling Queenslanders for Work because earning a nationally recognised qualification and gaining experience completing real tasks will improve participants' chances of finding work in the future.
Jemmy learned to use a computer and other office equipment, as well as how to complete a variety of office tasks.
"Learning how to touch-type and working in the YWCA Queensland office have been my favourite experiences so far," Jemmy said.
I have made new friends with the other trainees and I am also very thankful to the staff and my teachers for the opportunity to do this project.
YWCA Queensland Programs Manager Aeron Morgan said the project tackled 2 major inequalities in employment opportunities: gender and culture.
"Both women and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds face a range of personal, interpersonal, cultural and structural barriers and challenges in obtaining employment and training," Aeron said.
"This project offers participants that initial opportunity to launch their career that everyone needs. It also provides additional personal and professional development to address potential barriers.
"The participants complete nationally recognised training and develop work skills through meaningful work. This group has really embraced the project and is rapidly acquiring essential and transferrable work skills and qualifications as well as developing confidence.
The whole community benefits from this program. We are rescuing excess food from local landfill, providing good food to people in need, as well as providing much-needed employment and training opportunities to local women.
The project's second intake of 12 trainees will focus on establishing the project as an ongoing volunteer operation, supporting local charities to assist people in need into the future.